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Chinese WW2 forced labourers lose in Japan court

Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, Mar 29 (Reuters) A group of 45 elderly Chinese who were taken to Japan during World War Two for forced labour lost their bid for compensation and apologies from the Japanese government and two companies in a local court today.

The ruling came at a time when Japan's ties with China are at their worst in decades, particularly due to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, where some war criminals are honoured along with Japan's war dead.

The result was in line with most Japanese rulings on World War Two-related compensation claims, dozens of which have been filed against the Japanese government or firms.

''The court rejected all of the plaintiffs' claims,'' a spokesman for the Fukuoka District Court in southern Japan said by telephone.

The plaintiffs were seeking about 1 billion yen (8.5 million dollars) in total damages from the Japanese government, Mitsui Mining Co Ltd and Mitsubishi Materials Corp, Kyodo news agency reported.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs were forcibly taken from China to Japan's Fukuoka prefecture between 1943 and 1944 to work without pay at locations such as the Mitsui Miike mine and Mitsubishi Iizuka mine, Kyodo said.

The lawsuit, filed in 2003, also demanded that apologies be published in both Japanese and Chinese newspapers, Kyodo said.

The Japanese government insists that the issue of war reparations was settled by the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty that formally ended the war and by later bilateral treaties.

It says all wartime compensation issues concerning China were settled by a 1972 joint statement establishing diplomatic ties.

Resentment lingers in China over Japan's invasion and occupation of parts of the country from 1931 to 1945.

REUTERS SB KP0923

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